Whether it’s the cool new backpack with the latest “in” character on it, or a specific loose-leaf everyone has, kids have their preferences. From the sound of it, it might seem like their whole school experience, their social status, their friendships, not to mention their future, depends on the turquoise spiral notebook with three dividers and the right brand name on the cover. As a parent, it’s easy to be intimidated by kids’ telling you about how their life will be ruined if they don’t get this and get it now. They can paint curiously colorful pictures of your cruelty in denying them their “needs.” What kind of parent wants their child to suffer pains of embarrassment? Don’t get caught in that trap.
Rather, avoid the trap completely. Sit down with each child and his school supply list. Before you go into the store, make a list of what they will need. Kids can prove surprisingly reasonable when the colorful aisles aren’t catching their eye. Tell them how much you’re willing to spend and which stores you’re willing to visit. Then, no matter what, stick to the list. Check your house before you go. You’ll be surprised at how many items you already have on hand that piles up over time. Even though you don’t want to say yes to all your children’s desires, that doesn’t mean you will always want to say no. You can give them a good lesson in budgeting. Because you gave them a clear budget to start with, they can now pick a more expensive item, by trading off on other supplies that are cheaper.
When you plan your shopping trip, remember that there are two times to shop: early and late. The early is mid-July when stores are marking down prices to attract customers, and late in the first week of school when everything goes on clearance. Clearance is a great time to stock up on items that your child will need throughout the year, such as loose-leaf paper and pens. It’s a good idea to keep your eyes open whenever you’re out shopping in August. Many stores that have nothing to do with school supplies will stock them at pretty good prices.
Hopefully, school supply shopping will be less chaotic this year. And remember, the best part is, you won’t have to do this again until next year!